Procurement Trend #08. Lifecycle TCO

Five anti-trends remain. We can count them on one-hand, but like LOLCat, we feel more compelled to provide stupid examples of how back-water the futurists really are when they provide us examples of trends that anyone who bothered to poke their head over their cubicle wall ten years ago would have noticed. However, we’ll leave their humiliation for LOLCat, who has obviously received very little enjoyment from this series, but still found time to point out how LOLCats have been sustainable at least since the first corrugated cardboard box was created and instead focus on blasting the myths the futurists continue to propagate.

So why do these Rip van Winkles keep pushing upon us trends from yesteryear? Besides the fact that some of them obviously spent the best part of the last few decades napping, probably because they look around, see the laggard organizations still caught in the muck, and assume they can still sell last decade’s snake oil in today’s marketplace. Why do they think Lifecycle TCO is today’s cure?

  • the supply management lifecycle in a typical company has been expanding
    for decades

    and cost models rarely keep up

  • once the margin has been taken out of the unit cost and the landed cost,
    the definition of cost has to expand to realize savings

    but most companies that claim to be looking at TCO are still looking at T-CAP

  • the most out-of-control costs are typically where you’re not looking

    and that’s the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, they* like it

So what does this mean to you?

Cost Models Have to Expand

Right now, most companies that claim to be focussed on Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) are really only focussed on Total Cost of Acquisition and Production (T-CAP). They are merely focussed on landed cost and costs associated with production (waste, etc.) and distribution and aren’t looking up the supply chain to energy, labour, and raw material costs and forward to maintenance, service, warranty and return costs or even further forward to reclamation, recycling, and disposal (related) costs. Every cost has an impact and any sudden increase or decrease can completely change the model.

Out of Control Costs Have to be Found

Wherever they are. Typically, a company heavily focussed on optimization will be focussed on T-CAP but not look at the expected warranty and return costs associated with switching to a lower-cost supplier or not break down the supplier’s quote to realize that the energy costs are much higher than expected and likely to rise rapidly in the region two potential suppliers are currently located in.

Cost Control Measures Have to Be Implemented

Once the cost models are expanded, the out of control costs are identified, cost control measures are defined, implemented, and performance against them is tracked. If the out of control costs are energy costs, then the organization might decide to implement its own renewable power plant (such as a solar farm or wind farm) for fixed plant energy requirements. A sourcing project is undertaken to source the plant and then, once its up and running, additional projects are undertaken to control maintenance costs, etc. Year-over-year costs are tracked to insure the realized savings on a production-cost-per-megawatt basis are realized so that the organization will see its ROI within a defined period of time.

Piece of Cake, eh?